Blawgletter could hardly contain our enthusiasm when we heard about the nomination of Michael Mukasey to replace Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General. We said Call Us Crazy, but We Like Mukasey. We updated our feelings a couple of times but not since the second day of Mr. Mukasey’s testimony to a Senate committee. That day, unlike the first, didn’t go so well for lovers of constitutional democracy and its many blessings.
Now we hear that Mr. Mukasey’s nomination hinges on his simultaneous revulsion to, but uncertainty about the lawfulness of, "waterboarding". He and supporters say he can’t answer the legality question — whether waterboarding = torture — until he knows all the details, which he can’t get for security reasons until he becomes AG. Plus he shouldn’t prejudge the issue anyway. Too unseemly.
Mr. Mukasey’s dilemma reminds us of Lord Acton‘s observation on the effects of power. Except in this case the dictum applies to someone on the cusp of it and madly anxious to grasp it but dependent on others to entrust it to him. Talk about unseemly.